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SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS KURDISH JOURNALIST'S DEATH SENTENCE

The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a Kurdish-Iranian journalist convicted of spying and being an "enemy of God", Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) reports.

Adnan Hassanpour wrote for the weekly magazine "Aso" on the Kurdish issue until it was banned by the government in August 2005 following widespread unrest in Kurdish areas. He also worked for foreign news media including Voice of America and Radio Farda.

The court quashed the conviction of another "Aso" journalist, Abdolvahed "Hiva" Botimar, sentenced to death on the same charges on the grounds of procedural irregularity. His case was sent back to a revolutionary court for re-examination.

RSF is appealing to the international community to work for Hassanpour's release. "This sentence should be taken very seriously as Iran has already executed more than 300 people since the start of the year," RSF warns.

According to Hassanpour's lawyer, Hassanpour had been found guilty of "espionage" because he had allegedly revealed the location of military sites and established contacts with the U.S. foreign affairs ministry.

An ardent advocate of Kurdish cultural rights, Hassanpour was arrested outside his home in January and was held incommunicado for months. Botimar, an active member of the environmental NGO Sabzchia, was arrested in December 2006.

In the same week that Hassanpour's sentence was upheld, freelancer Yaghoub Salaki Nia was detained without charge at Evin jail in Tehran. His arrest on 31 October brings the number of journalists imprisoned in the country to 10, says RSF.

Visit these links:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24326
- Background on the case: http://tinyurl.com/26mwj8
- Take Action! Sign a petition to defend Hassanpour and Botimar: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15054
- RSF on Nia: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24302
(13 November 2007)

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